UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty Calls on U.S. to Recognize Health Care as a Human Right

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(PRESS RELEASE) – The Center for Reproductive Rights echoes concerns raised by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights in his new report on poverty and human rights in the United States.  The report expresses deep concern over the U.S.’ vast poverty and inequality rates and examines the extent to which the United States is living up to its international obligations., noting the harsh burdens women in poverty experience in the United States, and the exacerbating impact of race discrimination.

In the report, the Special Rapporteur notes particular concern that the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among wealthy countries, and that Black women are three to four times more likely to die from childbirth than white women. He also recognizes the ways in which legal and practical limitations on abortion access, such as mandatory waiting periods and long driving distances to clinics, trap women in poverty. The report recognizes, as well, the privacy violations that women seeking Medicaid prenatal care are forced to endure, the ways in which women living in poverty are denied the ability to parent with dignity, and burdens faced by female immigrants. 

The Special Rapporteur recommended that the United States recognize health care as a human right.

The following is a statement by Risa Kaufman, Director of U.S. Human Rights at the Center for Reproductive Rights about the report:

“The Special Rapporteur’s findings and recommendations make abundantly clear the reproductive rights violations that poor women, especially poor women of color, currently experience in the United States.

“Reproductive rights are, indeed, human rights which the United States, like all other countries, is obligated to respect, protect and fulfill.”

“There is an ongoing backlash against reproductive rights, social protection programs, and historically marginalized communities within the United States. The Special Rapporteur’s sobering report is particularly timely, given the current administration’s assault on access to reproductive health care in the United States, including its current attempts to block access to essential health care services for millions of women under the federal Title X Family Planning Program.”